Girvan 1994 (Carn Mor) Review


“The Grain, the Park and Other Things”

Whisky Review # 868

Country: Scotland
Region: Lowlands
Brand: Girvan 1994 - Distilled on October 18, 1994
Bottled by: Morrison & MacKay (MMcK) on January 18, 2016 - 178 Bottles
Series: Carn Mor (Celebration of the Cask)
Type: Single Grain Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # 137176
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 49.3% - Cask Strength
Maturation: Bourbon Barrel
Chill Filtration: No
Price: Around US$ 150 (April 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😑A 21-old Whisky can't be cheap of course
Buying Advice: 👎It's quite simple and not worth this kind of money

Colour:

Pale Gold  (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Be sure to give this Girvan enough time in the glass before Nosing in order to get rid of the first heavy Alcohol fumes. Having done just that I must confess that there still isn't a whole lot going on in this department. It's mainly Sweet with clear Bourbon cask characteristics. There are no real off-notes except for a little Varnish but I can't get very excited about this simple nose to be honest.

Main Aromas:

Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Vanilla, Grass, Resin, Grain Alcohol, Milk Chocolate, Orchard Fruit like Apples, Pears and Green Plums, Orange, Cinnamon, Pepper & Ginger.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Buttered Toast, Toffee, Charred Oak, Bourbon, Varnish, Plastic, Syrup, Banana Ice-Cream, Lemon, Nectarine, Fresh - & Dried Herbs and Polished Upholstery.


Palate:

A bit Thin for a 21 Year-Old Whisky. The cask can't have been a very active one. The Palate is a little Edgy and Bitter-Sweet with a few Sour notes. Again, there's nothing too exciting going on.

Main Flavours:

Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Vanilla, Banana Ice-Cream, Green Apple, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Aniseed and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Caramel, Syrup, Bounty Candy Bars, Charred Oak, Orange, Grapefruit, Lemon, Polished Upholstery, Varnish, Bourbon, Sultanas, Fresh & Dried Herbs and Licorice.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Creamy, Oily and Bitter-Sweet with a few Sour notes. Quite Dry towards the end. I find Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Grain Alcohol, Vanilla, Toffee and Caramel, Charred Oak, Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Fresh and Dried Herbs, Banana Ice-Cream, Bounty-Bars, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Aniseed, Menthol, Green Apple and Varnish.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this Girvan. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 80

Nose: 20 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 19.5 - Overall: 20

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Conclusion:

Girvan Distillery was founded in Girvan (South Ayrshire) in 1963. It is owned by William Grant & Sons. Most of the production is used in the William Grant Blends like Grant's and Clan MacGregor. The Grain Whisky is produced with 91.5% Wheat and 8.5% Malted Barley. The distillery has six Column stills with a total annual capacity of 115 million litres. The distillery also produces Hendrick's Gin.

It's generally accepted that 65 to 70% of the Flavours of any Whisky are formed by the contact of the Spirit with the Cask during maturation. I would guess that this percentage is even higher for Grain Whisky. That's why many Single Grain Whiskies go the market with over 20 Years of Cask time. The Girvan I'm tasting today matured for 21 years and it could have matured more if you ask me. But you need active casks as well and # 137176 is a bit of a disappointment in this respect. I must admit that Single Grain is not really my thing in general but that won't stop me from trying again in the near future!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     April 13 ,2020

Ichiro's Malt Double Distilleries Review



“The Green Leaves of Summer”

Whisky Review # 867

Country: Japan
Region: North of Tokyo
Brand: Ichiro's Malt Double Distilleries - Leaf Series
Blended at: Chichibu Distillery
Type: Japanese Blended Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Probably a mix of Sherry Wood and Japanese Oak
Chill Filtration: No
Average Price : US$ 260 (April 2020) - Lowest Price: US$ 135 (April 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎
Buying Advice: 😒Interesting tasting experiment but way too expensive! 

Colour:

Pale Gold (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Young, Light, Clean, Floral and a little Edgy. The Alcohol is noticeable. There is a slight Bourbon feel to it but all in all it's certainly not unpleasant.

Main Aromas:

Malted Barley, German Butter Biscuits, Vanilla, Puff Pastry filled with Apricot or Peach, Milk/Hazelnut Chocolate, Green Tea and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Caramel, Stewed Apples, Green Grapes, Candied Citrus Peel (Orange & Lemon), Floral Soap, Wet Leaves, Wood Shavings, Pepper, Mint and hints of Nail-Polish and Tin Cans.


Palate:

Young, Light, Bitter-Sweet and pretty Dry. The Alcohol remains quite noticeable and leaves the Malt slightly off-balance. I suspect that this Blend is mostly made with Young Chichibu Spirit. This Ichiro could be so much better with sufficient maturation time.

Main Flavours:

Malted and Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Nectarine, Artificial Sweetener, Wet Grass, Wet Stones and Sand, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Candied Citrus Peel, Cinnamon, Pepper, Menthol and Licorice.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Caramel, Green Apple, Green Papaya, Green Grapes, Mandarin, Charred Oak, Dusty Track, Floral Soap, Ginger, Nutmeg and Tin cans.

Finish:

Medium-Long, Bitter-Sweet and increasingly Dry. The Alcohol remains present and the Malt can't hide its Youth. But there's certainly potential in this Spirit. It just needs sufficient maturation in good casks. I find Malted & Toasted Barley, Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Charred Oak, Green Apple, Green Papaya, Artificial Sweetener, Candied Citrus Peel, English Breakfast Marmalade, Nectarine, Dusty Track, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Menthol, Licorice, Wet Grass and Tin cans.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this vatted Malt.

Rating: 84.5

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

This Japanese Whisky is named after Ichiro Akuto, the owner/founder of the Chichibu distillery founded in 2008. He is a grandson of the founder of Hanyu, a distillery that was closed in 2004. Ichiro managed to buy around 400 casks of Hanyu Malt and uses this Whisky a/o in a vatted Blend with Malt from Chichibu. The result is called Ichiro's Malt Double Distilleries. The Hanyu Malt is said to have matured in Ex-Sherry casks while the Chichibu Malt perhaps matured in Japanese Mizunara casks. This information is not officially available though.

Ichiro's Malt Double Distilleries shows the potential of the Chichibu Malt, helped by some older matured Spirit from Hanyu in this case. The latter can't disguise the fact that we're talking bout a Young Whisky here. Not bad for sure but a bit un-balanced and immature. I could imagine it as a nice Summer aperitif. That would be okay at around US$ 50 but thanks to the Japanese Whisky hype you will have to pay a lot more to get a bottle of this Ichiro. The average price is around 5 times as high and there's no way I would spend that kind of money on this Young Japanese vatted Malt. But I will follow this distillery and I hope that one day I can taste a fully matured Chichibu! 

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                        April 6,2020

Chichibu Distillery

Highland Park Dragon Legend Review


“Another Park Another Sunday”

Whisky Review # 866

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Dragon Legend
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43.1%
Maturation: Mix of European and American Sherry-Seasoned Oak
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 40-60 (March 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: Okay.
Buying Advice: 😑 It's not bad but it's way too Thin/Watery for me.

Colour:

Golden Straw(Natural Colour)

Nose:

Young, Light, Clean, slightly Floral and a little Harsh. The Alcohol is noticeable. Mainly Sweet with some clear Sherry Wood Aromas. This is supposed to be more Peaty than most Highland Park Malt but Peat and Smoke are still quite subdued. It's not unpleasant but it's rather simple and not fully-matured. I can't exclude the use of some Virgin Oak.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Grass and Straw, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Apricots, Earthy Peat, Oak Char, Candied- Orange, Stewed Apples, Red Grapes, Cinnamon, Ginger and Nutmeg.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Golden Syrup, Heather-Honey, Spicy Fruitcake, Wax, Lemon, Hazelnut-Milk Chocolate, Ashes, Polished Leather, Mint and Cloves.



Palate:

Light, Thin to the point of Watery and a bit Harsh. It basically follows the Nose but Smoke and Peat are more noticeable now. Mostly Sweet with a few Bitter & Sour touches.

Main Flavours:

Toasted and Malted Barley, Burnt Straw/Grass/Heather, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Earthy Peat, Smoke, Wax, Candied Orange, Hazelnut-Milk Chocolate, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Licorice and Nutmeg.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Golden Syrup, Apple, Lemon, Nectarine, Polished Leather, Dusty Cellar, Oak Char, Raw Meat, Milk, Soot and Ashes.


Finish:

Middle-Long. A Mix of Sweet, Bitter and Sour notes. It's not bad but suffers from its Thin structure despite the reasonable ABV. I find Toasted Barley, Peat and Smoke, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Hazelnut-Milk Chocolate, Dried Fruit (Raisin, Apricot), Apple, Candied Orange, Oak Char, Lemon, Cinnamon, Ginger, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Aniseed and Licorice. Hints of Polished Leather, Nectarine, Raw Meat and Red Wine.

Drinking Advice:

This Dragon Legend does not improve with added water. It's already sufficiently Thin as it is.

Rating: 84 

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 21  - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat: Thin but Okay

Conclusion:

The distillery was founded in 1798 by David Robertson. It is located in the small town of Kirkwall on the isle of Orkney.  Orkney is still quite strongly influenced by its Viking past and the distillery has increasingly used this past as a rather successful marketing tool. Highland Park currently produces around 2.5 million litres of Alcohol & is owned since 1997 by the Edrington Group. The core range basically consists of the 10 years (Viking Scars), the 12 years (Viking Honour), the 18 years (Viking Pride), the 25, 30 and 40 years.

The Vikings feared and respected Dragons that were said to possess mystical powers although they represented Evil. Viking warrior Sigurd killed the Serpent Dragon Fafnir, drank its Blood and gained powerful gifts such as Prophecy and Wisdom. Wow! 😏

The Dragon Legend was released in 2017. Let's start on the positive side. It's not a bad Highland Park considering it's NAS and quite Young. There are no Off-Notes and it's all reasonably agreeable though forgettable. What kills it for me is its Thin, almost Watery texture. When I think of Vikings and Dragons I think of Strength, Courage, Thunderstorms and the like. What you get with the Dragon Legend reminds me more of an Afternoon Tea event organized by some elderly women than a banquet to the honour of Sigurd. As an entry, lightly peated malt it's okay though and so is its price!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     March 30,2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

Bruichladdich Octomore 07.1 Review


“(Octo) More Than Words”

Whisky Review # 865

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bruichladdich Octomore 07.1 (208 PPM) - Scottish Barley Series
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Limited Edition
Age: 5 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 59.5%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon American Oak casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 120-160 (March 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎Too expensive for such a Young Single Malt.
Buying Advice: 👍Very nice heavily peated Young Islay. 

Colour:

Golden Straw (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Please give this Octomore some time in the glass before Nosing. It's probably the peatiest Single Malt I've tried so far. The 1st impression is peated Grist, something some of you have certainly smelled during a visit to Islay distilleries. The Alcohol is quite strong, no wonder at close to 60%! The Nose presents lots of Burnt, Charred and Medicinal notes that seem to have been infused into the Malt. If you're a beginning Whisky drinker, this Nose might turn you off a little. But after a while in the glass it actually becomes quite balanced and almost soft, albeit a bit one-sided.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Toast, Salted Caramel, Burnt Grass, Dirty Peat, Factory Smoke, Sea Water, Iodine, Bandaid, Rubber, Tarmac, Ashes, TCP Pipes, Green Apple, BBQ Bacon in Honey/Treacle sauce, Charred Oak, Leather, Wet Stones/Sand, Pepper and Aniseed.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Mix of Straw and Cow Manure, Salted Almonds, Soot, Burnt Herbs, Lemon, Pear, Driftwood, Metal and Mint.


Palate:

The Thick and Oily Palate basically follows the Nose. Peat Lovers will certainly appreciate this 07.1 Octomore. Within its (rather limited) peated purpose it does certainly shine although it's a bit on the Sweet side. With a longer maturation this could become a great Islay Malt but that's day dreaming.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Burnt Toast, Salted Caramel, Burnt Grass, Dirty Peat, Factory Smoke, Iodine, Band Aid, Ashes, Soot, TCP Pipes, Rubber, Tarmac, Mix of Cow Manure and Straw, Bacon on the BBQ, Burnt Herbs, Green Apple, Grapefruit, Roasted Nuts, Leather, Wet Stones and Sand, Pepper, Licorice and Menthol.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Lemon, Bitter Orange Juice, Mustard, Charred Oak, Roasted Coffee, Olive Oil, Pear and Ginger.


Finish:

Bitter-Sweet, Medium-Dry and Exceptionally Long. The Alcohol is quite Strong and the Whisky is Young but it's still quite Tasty if you're into peated Malt. The Palate and Finish are quite in line with the Nose. Therefore I find Toasted Malt, Burnt Toast, Burnt Grass, Mix of Straw and Cow Manure, Factory Smoke, Dirty Peat, Iodine, Band Aid, Tar, Rubber, Soot, TCP Pipes, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Burnt Newspaper, Burnt Herbs, Bacon on the BBQ, Charred Oak, Salted Nuts, Roasted Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Green Apple, Lemon, Pepper, Ginger, Licorice, Mustard and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not really benefit this Octomore although you can carefully add a few drops at a time. Don't overdo it though as it can easily drown.

Rating: 86

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion:

Bruichladdich was founded in 1881 by Barnett Harvey. During its history it was mothballed various times, the last time in 1998. In 2012 the Islay distillery was bought by Remy Cointreau (France). Since, Bruichladdich is showing a healthy growth again. The distillery produces 3 types of Single Malt, i.e. the unpeated Bruichladdich, the heavily peated Port Charlotte and the very heavily peated Octomore. The basic core range for Bruichladdich includes The Classic Laddie, Islay Barley 2010 & Black Art 5. The annual production amounts to around one million litres.

The Octomore 07.1 was released in 2015. At 208 PPM you would expect an insupportable Peat Monster but that's not the case. It's certainly a Peat-Bomb but it somehow manages to maintain a certain balance. If you don't like peated Whisky you should stay away from Octomore in general but for those who love their peat the 07.1 will be a pleasant surprise. My only issues are its Youth and its Price. This could be a really great Whisky if matured for say 15 years. As it is, it's a very nice and balanced Young peated Islay Malt. I wouldn't pay 150 US Dollars for a bottle though. It's just too expensive for a Young Whisky. But I did enjoy the Tasting session!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    March 23, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

Glenlivet The Master Distiller's Reserve Small Batch Review


“All the Small Things”
Whisky Review # 864

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenlivet "The Master Distiller's Reserve" Small Batch (# 9378/010)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Mix of Sherry Butts, American Oak and Traditional Oak casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 170-270 (March 2020) - Huge local price differences!
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎It's better than the regular MDR but way too expensive!
Buying Advice: 👎Better stay with the core range. I recommend the 18 Y.

Colour:

Amber with shades of Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Young, Medium-Light and Sweet. Clear Sherry influences. A few Sour & Grassy notes as well. It's okay and not unpleasant. Nothing special though. Much better though than the regular MD Reserve that I reviewed earlier. Certainly a result of the better casks used for this Small Batch.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley Sugar, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Rum-Soaked Fruitcake with lots of Raisins and Sultanas, Apple, Pear, English Breakfast Marmalade, Grass, Caffe Latte, Milk Chocolate, Cinnamon, Ginger and Mint.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Caramel, Toffee, Honey, Nectarine, Mandarin, Lemon, Sugared Almonds, Wet Stones, Floral Perfume, Coconut and Wood Shavings.



Palate:

Young, rather Light and Medium-Dry with Sweet, Bitter, Green and Sour Notes. The Alcohol is noticeable by now.

Main Flavours:

Barley Sugar, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Fruitcake, Green Apple, Pear, Sugared Nuts, Seville-Orange, Grass, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon and Licorice.
  
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Caramel, Honey, Raisins,  Mandarin, Grapefruit, Dusty Track, Mint, Caffe Latte, Metal and Nutmeg.

Finish:

Middle-Long, slightly Edgy and Light with mixed Sweet, Bitter and Sour Notes. The Alcohol is a bit Sharp at this Point showing us the relative Youth of this Single Malt. I find Sweet Barley, Sugar, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Sugared Nuts, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas & Apricots, Honey, Seville Orange, Mandarin, Lemon, Caffe Latte, Floral Perfume, Green Apple, Pepper, Cinnamon, Licorice, Ginger & Mint.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this Glenlivet.

Rating: 81

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 20  - Finish: 19  - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good

Conclusion:

The Glenlivet Distillery is located in Ballindalloch (Banfshire) and was founded in 1824 by George Smith. Since 2001 it is owned by Chivas Brothers Pernod Ricard and in 2018 a new extension of the distillery was approved that will increase the production to around 21 million litres making it the largest Single Malt distillery in Scotland. The Core range includes The Founder's Reserve (NAS), the 12, 15, 18 and 21 Years as well as the XXV and the Captain's Reserve. The Master Distiller's Reserve Small Batch I'm reviewing today was launched in 2011 and is part of the Travel Retail range.

The Small Batch is a step up when compared to the regular Master Distiller's Reserve. The main reason is that better casks were used to mature the spirit. The price increased disproportionally though and that's the principal reason I can't recommend this Small Batch. By the way, Small Batches may vary from time to time of course. This Small Batch benefits from the better casks but still suffers from its Youth and the inadequate ABV. It's an okay introduction to the Single Malt market if you are a fresh whisky traveller. But it doesn't present any sufficiently interesting Aromas and Flavours for long time whisky adepts.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    March 16, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019